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What's bugging you? Out-of-state license plates

ABC7 Eyewitness News: What's Bugging You?
January 13, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
People move to California but they don't register their cars. That is bugging you and it is also costing you. Here's how you can keep them from getting away with it.Eyewitness News went riding with the California Highway Patrol when officers spotted a car with New Jersey plates. It's not unusual to see out-of-state license plates. But when they are from that far away -- the other end of the country -- they might be people who moved here a while ago, but haven't registered their vehicles in California.

"This one is Lubbock, Texas, and it was observed in Calabasas," said CHP Officer Leland Tang.

What's the big deal? Tens of thousands of dollars lost to the state of California because these cars aren't registered here. It's hard to get an exact dollar amount, but the CHP office in the San Fernando Valley alone has a box of hundreds of potential violators.

In the entire state there are thousands more motorists who live here but keep their out-of-state plates. The main reason? Registration in California is much more expensive.

"The common thing I hear is, 'Why should I have to pay and my neighbor isn't?' And it all comes down to fairness," said Tang.

On this day Eyewitness News went to a home in Woodland hills. The CHP received an anonymous call saying a truck has Idaho plates, but the family has lived here for years.

"How long have you and your father been living here?" an officer asks a resident at the house.

"Quite a while," said the resident.

"And it's always been registered in Idaho?"

"I guess," says the resident.

"It's pretty apparent that he's living here and has a job here," said Tang. "He's listed as a construction worker. And according to her, he's at work in Burbank, so that means he's gainfully employed. "So then he's already established California residency. He has to register his car."

The CHP pulled over several other vehicles with out-of-state plates. They admitted to living here.

One woman had Florida plates that expired months ago.

"I'm a little out of date with that and part of it was just the move across country and then I kind of lost sight of it," said Denise Erol about her expired Florida license plates.

"It just takes time. It's one of those things. I should have taken time to do it, but I just didn't," said Jeremy Loncka, who was pulled over for expired Utah license plates.

It's also a public safety issue, and that's why the CHP welcomes the public's help.

In fact, on the CHP Web site there is a place you can report any out-of-state vehicle that you think may be breaking the law. And you can remain anonymous.

A more serious issue is insurance because if your car is registered in another state and you live in California, your insurance may not cover you in this state.

"If your vehicle is registered in Florida and you're here in California, and they are unaware of that, and you're paying the registration fees and the insurance fees for Florida, that's not going to be reflective of what's going on here in California, and so they could absolutely say 'We're not going to honor that and you're not covered,'" said Tang.

The DMV requires you to pay fees within 20 days of entry or residency, or you could face a penalty.

If you are in the military and stationed in California you are exempt.